Ask the Mamas: Crib to Bed Tips

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Mama Say What reader Julie asks:
I want to transition my 24-month daughter into a toddler bed before our next little one arrives in 4 months. Do you have any tips or tricks on how to make the transition for crib to bed successful?

I’ve seen people take the side of the crib off, with the bed at the lowest level. I put my crib mattresses on the floor, and my dad made me a little platform that was about 4 inches off the floor to raise that up. ~Sue F.

We have a crib that converted to a toddler bed with a rail. It really didn’t phase Parker. He kept sleeping in it like nothing had changed. ~Amanda P.

Transitioning from the crib to a toddler bed was a HUGE turning point for us. Everyone in the house is happier and better rested. Well, at least we were before our new little one came along, hehe. My daughter was 15.5 months old when she got a “big girl bed” for Christmas. She was super excited. We let her pick out her own big girl sheet set and comforter (she picked butterflies). We made a really big deal of saying she’s “a big girl” when she got it, and I think that helped the transition- she was so proud.

C really likes having the freedom to get in and out of the bed as she pleases; she doesn’t have to yell and cry for mama or daddy to come get her anymore. I think the crib was too confining for her and the feeling of confinement contributed to some really, really awful meltdowns at bedtime. I’m not saying she’ll hop into bed and go right to sleep now, but she will willingly get into bed and lay down- something she would never consider doing when she was in a crib.
It has been a little frustrating for mama when C decides to get out of bed when she’s supposed to stay in it, but for the most part it’s been excellent.

I know some people choose to put the crib mattress on the floor first, but we chose to buy a low-to-the-ground toddler bed. It’s a great height and she hasn’t had any problems getting in or out. Plus, I think it saves everyone the hassle of having to do yet another transition when you introduce a bed frame.C’s toddler bed has partial railings on either side, and yet she still has figured out how to roll out of it in the middle of the night a couple times. I recommend putting a pillow or a blanket on the floor next to the bed for the first couple of months your little one is in it, just in case! ~Cassie W.

Because our son was still quite a mover when he slept, we opted to put a twin mattress right onto the floor after he turned two. We made the move shortly after we moved to a new state, so both my husband and I were a little worried it would be a rough transition since his sleep wasn’t that great from the move.

He got to help pick out the sheets for his new bed and a couple of his beloved stuffed animals were his new bed mates. It went a lot more smoothly than we expected. For nap time, you’d never know there was a change, he napped great. At bedtime, he often needed some reminding that it was bed time and not playtime. I would occasionally walk in on him playing with toys or looking out his window. Even now, we still go through phases where he’s restless at bedtime and just wants to play.

We also put up a baby gate at the top of the stairs to prevent him from roaming around downstairs if he woke up in the middle of the night. It’s still not uncommon for us to find he has had rolled off his bed and is sound asleep on the floor.

Cut to now… he’s been in his big boy bed for over a year and a half and is doing great. Both my husband and I love being able to snuggle with him at bed time. When TJ is having a restless night, my husband will often lay with him until he falls asleep. He does come into our bed around 5am almost every morning and snuggle back to sleep with us. We really love it, so we’re not complaining. ~Alex T.

Make a big deal about it… hype it up and make sure your child knows she is a BIG girl!! (They are more excited about it than you think!!)

We used a regular twin bed on the frame pushed up against one wall and got a rail to attach to the other side so he wouldn’t be able to fall out as my son still moves around quite a bit. We didn’t talk about it on the days approaching only the day of the big switch and we brought it up A LOT… at that point it was ready and SO excited to be in his big boy bed, he couldn’t wait for bed time. We made sure to also keep the same dinner/bedtime routine the first night, I wanted everything to be as normal as possible for him.

I was sure he would easily figure out a way to jump ship but I think he was so excited to actually be in his big boy bed, he never once got out and still doesn’t. He waits for us to come and get him up after he wakes up just like he did in his crib. Maybe because he hasn’t figured it out?? But I am just rolling with it.

We have a video monitor so I can clearly see what he is up to and occasionally he will need a reminder that “its time for sleeping and he needs to lay down” but this is no different than it was in his crib. Good Luck! ~Melissa T.

We didn’t have a choice because around 26 months, our son started climbing out of his crib! We took the side of the crib off and put up a bed rail, essentially changing it to a toddler bed. He has always been an awesome night sleeper and napper, but since the bed rail has gone up (and he can easily climb out), his naps have gone downhill. But his night sleep is still great! If he doesn’t nap, he still has quiet time in his room. We also put a safety cap on his door knob on the inside so he can’t escape in the middle of the night. We also anchored his heavy dresser to the wall so he can’t move it or pull it on top of himself if he decides to be a climber. Good luck! ~Mary Ellen M.

I didn’t do a full on toddler bed, but we transitioned our daughter around 18 months or so to a crib with a toddler rail because she was able to climb (fall) out of her crib. We just did it without really worrying about it. We toddler-proofed her room, made sure everything was safe and out of reach, and bolted furniture to the wall. We put her to bed like normal. She still woke up several times a night (which was normal anyway) but instead of standing in her crib she was standing at the door waiting for me.

I actually like it more now because she can get out, entertain herself and read books, and will often just climb back into bed and fall asleep on her own. That never, ever happened when she was in a crib. She is now 22 months old and has started sleeping through the nights most days of the week. The transition was a lot easier than I thought it would be! ~Jessica S.

We tried to transition my little man too early due to another little one on the way. He was about 18-months at the time and just wasn’t ready. He wouldn’t go to sleep and woke up several times at night and came straight into our room! After a couple months of this we decided to scrap the idea and buy another crib. We kept the twin bed in L’s room along with his crib and one night, at about 22-months L told me he wanted to sleep in his bed. He crawled in that night and we haven’t had an issue yet. For me, just letting him get used to the idea and decide on his own terms that he was ready made all the difference. Once he was a bit older he was also ready to climb up his stool to his bed a bit easier.” ~Corey P.

The advice given here is solely based on our individual experiences and in no way is it going to be perfect for every mama, every baby, and every situation. None of us are medical doctors. If you have a question regarding a medical topic we can give our opinions, but please consult with your doctor. We are not liable or responsible for the results of following any specific advice in any given situation.

4 Responses to Ask the Mamas: Crib to Bed Tips

  1. I have a 26 month old who is still in a crib but we will be transitioning him soon. We also will be moving his 8 month old brother to the same room soon.. it will be a challenge!

  2. I also have a 26 month old son in a crib. I’ve dreaded transitioning him, thinking it will be a war at night….but hearing these stories makes me think having the freedom will actually make bedtime better!

  3. Pingback: Ask the Mamas: Transitioning to a Toddler Bed Mama Say What?! | Mama Say What?!

  4. Pingback: How can we get our toddler to stay in bed? Tips & Tricks | Mommy Ammo

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